Monday, April 25, 2016

Springtime Festivus

What happens every spring? No, not baseball. No, not daffodils, although they happen, too.

Spring, and especially the end of the semester, is the time when otherwise sensible and rational academics get. . .touchy.

Minor slights become major affronts that demand action.  Discussion lists and Facebook blossom with testy demands for accountability.

Letters and petitions flourish about matters that a face-to-face conversation could solve. Sides are chosen and colleagues demand that you join them or else be held accountable for not caring enough.
Escalation becomes the norm, and old injuries, real or perceived, are brought out for their annual airing. It's a springtime Festivus.

I'm not talking about the social issues that are genuinely causes to protest, but rather things like "how come the professors on one floor get green staplers and we have to settle for red ones?"

I'm exaggerating, of course, but I get caught up in this, too.  A few years back, I recognized that it's a pattern and now earnestly try to keep my mouth shut and, if that doesn't work, to "take my hands off that" problem.

Have you noticed this, or is it just my end-of-semester crankiness clouding my judgment? Or should we be more attentive to these issues all the time instead of just in the spring?


gwinne said...

Hmmmm....had not occurred to me that this is a spring issue, though now that you mention it... I do love the recycling of old grievances. Definitely happens in my program. Like watching Groundhog's Day...

Anonymous said...


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Oh I hate April at school. In my outside life it's great. But at my job, it's the worst. People suck so bad in April.

xykademiqz said...

Who are you calling touchy!? ;)

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

It isn't just work, either. I looked at old journals for the month of April. Cats get very sick or die, friends' relationships or my own friendships have come unstuck, new cats create turmoil in the household, and so on. I suppose the stress of tax time and end-of-term stuff could contribute to other problems in an academic's life, but still, I was surprised at how pervasive the turmoil of April seemed to be. I'm going to try to plan a little for a calmer April next year . . . bigger paper due after spring break, maybe, and just shorter things or exams in April . . . and this might mean forgoing a conference in March, something I'd like to do, but which would no doubt make the end of March a jet-lagged mess and trigger more April angst.

undine said...

gwinne--I like that! Groundhog Day for grievances!

nicoleandmagggie--You should trademark "Hatepril"--it's perfect.

Fie, I can't tell if it is other people or if it's me, because I'm silently aggrieved that they're so unreasonable in April. It's chicken and egg.


Dame Eleanor, that's an interesting confirmation of the idea. I hadn't noticed that in other areas of life, but I don't keep track. Your plans for a calmer April next year sound good. I wonder, too, if this happens in all industries/professions or just in academia.

undine said...

The thing is, you like to respect and think well of your colleagues. When they behave in petty and vindictive ways, it lessens your respect for them even if you don't pick a fight on the spot about it.

undine said...

Petty, selfish, spiteful behavior is unbecoming in anyone, especially people who ought to know better. There, I'm ready to relinquish the Festivus pole now.